Democrat presidential hopeful Robert “Beto” O’Rourke contended in an interview with NPR that the Constitution does not protect ownership of AR-15s and other commonly owned semiautomatic firearms.
He told NPR that “the Constitution discriminates among weapons,” thereby protecting ownership of some but not others. He suggested the Second Amendment does not allow citizens to “shoulder a bazooka,” nor does it protect ownership of AR-15s and AK-47s.
He said, “When the Second Amendment was adopted and ratified, it took three minutes to reload your musket. I don’t know that the Founding Fathers, the framers of the Constitution, those that pursued that Second Amendment … could have envisioned a weapon designed for war [being available to private citizens].”
O’Rourke overlooked a couple of important points.
First, the military rifle he referenced is not a semiautomatic AR-15, which millions upon millions of Americans own and love, but a fully automatic M16 and/or M4. An AR-15 shoots one bullet per trigger pull, period, while an M-16 and/or M4 can shoot an entire magazine full of ammunition with a single pull of the trigger. (Some versions of the M4 only allow three-round bursts of full auto, but that is still a military option not available in civilian AR-15s.)
The second fact O’Rourke overlooks is muskets in private possession when the Second Amendment was ratified were military weapons. It was with such muskets that Patriots throughout southern colonies repelled and ultimately defeated the invading British Red Coats.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation calculates there are more than 16 million privately owned AR-15s in the United States.
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.